Saturday, November 17, 2007

PBS: Judgement Day

You can watch the 2 hr PBS program, "Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" here. The program is about the battle over teaching evolution in Dover, PA. It's conveniently divided into 12 chapters so you can pick and choose specifically the parts you want to watch.

This is an awesome, edge of your seat program. I highly recommend it.

Surname Frequency

Find out how common your surname is here. Mine doesn't make the top 5000.

Friday, November 16, 2007

British Reduce Violence by Leaving Basra

Here is an interesting article in the International Herald Tribune. Violence in the city of Basra (Iraq) fell 90% after British soldiers left the city.
"We thought, 'If 90 percent of the violence is directed at us, what would happen if we stepped back?'" Binns said.

Britain's 5,000 troops moved out of a former Saddam Hussein palace at Basra's heart in early September, setting up a garrison at an airport on the city's edge. Since that pullback, there's been a "remarkable and dramatic drop in attacks," Binns said.

"The motivation for attacking us was gone, because we're no longer patrolling the streets," he said.

Protecting the Border II (Fire Departments)

The Plattsburgh Press Republican has more on the recent problem of a Quebec Fire Department being detained at the Champlain, NY border crossing.
In the past, officers at the Rouses Point crossing have waved the Canadian fire trucks through.

This time, a customs official delayed them by between eight and 15 minutes, according to differing accounts.

"I've been crossing this border for 30 years, and the only question we were ever asked was: "'Where's the fire?'" Lacolle Fire Chief Jean-Pierre Hebert told the Toronto Globe and Mail this week.

"This time, we got someone zealous. He told us we'd need our passports next time."

The chief says fires double in intensity with every minute. Thus rapid responses seem to be key in fighting fires. I don't think fire responders should be "just waved across the border" but there must be a safe compromise.

More details from a Canadian newspaper here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More From Our Friend "Gary": Bigotry is Good

"Gary from Bloomingdale" has a letter to the editor in yesterdays ADK. Here it is:
To the editor:

There are many different views and opinions in this country as to how our society should act, believe and teach our children. I believe that one of the most detremental “movements” that seems to be infecting our system of values and boundaries is the secular-progressive mindset that embraces an ideology that diversity is all important and political correctness is more important than the moral and patriotic mindset of our country.
[Please be more specific. What should be the moral and patriotic mindset of our country. Please tell us so us secular-progressives can become more acceptable to you]

We have seen this anything-goes freedom-before-common-sense idiocy permeate our educational system to such a point that, if it is allowed to continue, anarchy will replace order, and moral and ethical behavior will slowly become a thing of the past. [I have to partially agree here. It looks like very soon we will have fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling, forty years of darkness and Earthquakes, volcanoes... The dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria etc.]

Now, I’m not advocating a theocracy — God knows that never has worked — but perhaps a return to a little common sense would be a welcomed breath of fresh air for the majority of our country. [Oh no, not a theocracy, just you supplying the rules about how everyone should live their lives]

When a school system invites SPs to give a speech advocating taking drugs, same sex experimentation, unsafe sex practices, and yet the word God can’t be used, as in the Colorado case, there is something terribly wrong with our society. [What the hell is an SP? Are we talking Scientology here or what. A suppressed person? Help us out here.]

This all started with Madeline Murray O’Hare, a self-professed lesbian and atheist, and snowballed into legalized abortion, and we’ve been in a moral landslide every since. [ We assume you mean Madeliine Murray O'Hair but whatever. Maybe three people on earth have heard about this person and maybe one or two of them care about her. There is no leader of the "atheist movement"]

I have been called a bigot because of my stand on homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and many other conservative stands I take, and my reply is “GUILTY.” I believe that certain forms of bigotry are healthy for our society and, after all, aren’t these diversified people bigoted against anyone else who disagrees with them? [Why would anyone ever call you a bigot? Oh wait, you are calling yourself a bigot, well I guess we can agree that the word does describe some of your positions]

The children in some schools can’t hug, play tag, eat cupcakes, but can get birth control at 11 years old. [Oh yeah, those 11 yr olds in Maine getting birth control pills. Of course they are not getting them, but you won't hear that on Fox News.]

It would seem that our educational system is becoming as dangerous as the ACLU in this country, and for all who support such an organization, when is the last time they sued to keep God IN something? When have they sued to protect children from predators? The effect of such thinking has hampered the workings of this country and has not gained us any respect on the world stage. [Let's just dump those pesky old Bill of Rights amendments. They are really good for anything are they?]

I have a prediction: Watch for plural marriages to become the next FAD. Oprah had on a participant of one of these relationships and almost glorified the peactice. [Plural marriages are already happening or haven't you heard? Those good Christian Mormons out in Utah? Those people are devout believers in God]

We can only hope that when all this diversity-at-any-cost blows up in our faces that there will be enough common-sense thinking Americans to pick up the pieces and return us to a country based on moral values and not self-serving “just do it” principles. [Be more specific. How is all this divesity-at-any-cost going to blow up in our faces? Are we back to the cats and dogs living together scenario?]

I truly hope I am wrong and perhaps just being a bit of an alarmist, but every night when I watch the news I have the same feeling of just plain being scared of what may happen if this country continues in the direction in which it seems to be heading.
[Wait, don't you mean every night when you watch "FOX News"? Of course you are scared Gary, that's the plan. How can we continue to take away liberties in the US and continue to dominate the world unless we are scared?]

How About a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology?

That's the question posed by Matthew Chapman at the Huffington Post.

No, the presidential candidates are not scientists, but wouldn't you like to know their views on policies that would affect Climate Change, Species Loss, Drought, Pollution, Ownership Of Water, Population And Its Affect On Environment, Alternative Energy Research, Global Diseases And Pandemics, Stem Cell Research, Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, Vaccination Programs, Drug Patents And Generic Drugs, Space Exploration, The Genome And Its Uses, Commerce And Science, Government Policy and Science, And Science Education.

Those are some of the topics that Chapman proposes to be discussed. Sounds like a great idea, especially if the moderators of the debate were scientists instead of pundits.

Unfortunately, the comments that followed Chapman's post devolved into a pro/anti evolution/creationism argument along the lines of this example:
As to your reference to this 1973 statement by geneticist and evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky, I hope you and others realize that "evolution" is nothing more than a philosophical ideology of secular humanism/naturalism. There continues to be no proof of macro-type species to species evolution. In my opinion, common sense says that if everything came about by this process?wouldn"t we be able to find it somewhere? And, since 1973, there are many other scientist who don"t "believe" that we crawled out of a mudpuddle! To our shame, these many, many scientist are silenced and shunned by "THE" "scientific" community.

Gang Raped in Saudi Arabia

A nineteen year old Saudi women was gang raped by 6 men. The men were tried and sentenced to 2-9 years in prison. A lenient sentence since the offense of rape can be punished by death.

The women gets off much more lightly. She only gets 200 lashes (possibly 400) and six months in jail.

That's what happens when you have a country with a royal family that insures their own security by allowing Wahhabism to flourish among the populace.

The USA props up the Saudi royal family to insure an adequate supply of oil to our country.

We (citizens of the USA) prop up the Saudi regime by continuing to whine for more and more gasoline at the lowest possible prices.

What do you think happens with all those petro dollars?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ex-Rep Sweeney is a Lap-Dance Wild Man

Ok, you kind of expect that, as long as there is alcohol and cars, people are going to get stopped and charged with driving while intoxicated as happened to John Sweeney last week. But getting stopped while you are drunk and getting a lap-dance at the same time? At least it was a women and not a man sitting in his lap. A 23 year old women. This guy used to represent our Congressional district.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. From helping Bush become President in 2000 by shutting down a Miami-Dade vote recount with a fake protest, to beating his wife, to getting a lap-dance from a 23 yr old women on the Northway.

One thing you can you can give Republican politicians credit for....when it comes to sex, they are willing to try anything.

Some People Still Like Bush

The last paragraph in a lettr to the editor in the Plattsburgh Press Republican:
We cannot and will not disengage from the cause while our brave commander-in-chief is in office. God forbid he should be replaced by a traitorous coward in November 2008.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

BBC's Climate Skepticism

Here is a link that you can add to your favorites. It's a list of the top ten arguments most often made against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change along with some counter-arguments.

How Do We Beat the Bitch? McCain's Answer?

From TPM.

When are we going to hear the equivalent question about Barack Obama? No defending a fellow United States Senator Mr. McCain?

Reverse Payments Delay Introduction of Generic Drugs

Ever hear of reverse payments? In the pharmaceutical industry, a reverse payment is money an owner of a brand name drug pays a generic drug company to delay the introduction of a generic version of the brand name drug. It's completely legal.

H.R. 1432 and S. 316, the preserve access to generics acts, propose to make reverse payments illegal. Reverse payments are kind of like the Farm Bill. You get paid for doing nothing. This benefits both the brand name and generic drug manufacturers. The generics get paid for doing nothing while the brand name companies continue to sell their drug at a premium choice.

Unfortunately, those bills are stalled in Congress. Why? Lobbyists.
An Associated Press review of lobbying reports, from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007, found that $38.8 million was spent by at least a dozen generic and brand-name companies and their trade associations on issues including the Senate legislation. The lobbying reports do not specify how much of that money was directed at the reverse payment bill, and they are not required by law to do so.

More than half of those expenses were piled up by the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, which represents brand-name drug companies. PhRMA spent $19.5 million in the 12-month period ending June 30 on in-house lobbying expenses, an increase of about $3 million over the previous 12-month period.

And the Generic Pharmaceutical Association reported lobbying expenses of around $420,000 for the first six months of this year. It did not report lobbying on the bill in its year-ending 2006 report. The remaining $19 million was spent by a variety of drug companies, including Bayer Corp., Schering-Plough, Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA.

Thank you drug companies and thank you Congress.

Here is the drug companies slant on things. They, of course, argue that the bill will actually delay brand name drugs being introduced as generics. What a surprise.

Protecting the Border

Rouses Point, NY is a tiny hamlet that is located on the USA-Canadian border. Last night there was a fire at the Anchorage Inn in Rouses Point. Fire trucks sent from nearby Canadian fire departments were held at the border by US Border Patrolmen for at least 8 minutes while they verified the identity of one of the firefighters.
Trombley said he is not sure whether the landmark restaurant would have been saved had the departments been able to enter the United States faster, but he said the delay did strain firefighters battling flames in Rouses Point.

"The people there really needed to be relieved. It was a pretty risky situation."

Lacolle and St. Paul Isle Noix fire departments are part of the Clinton County Mutual Aid System.

UPDATE: First responders need better access. This is a tough one. How do you allow rapid access of first responders to the USA and protect against possible "evil-doers" at the same time?

Plattsburgh Press Republican editorial here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kerik, Giuliani and Bush: BFF

In Kerik, Bush Saw Values Crucial to Post-9/11 World
The bond between the president and the former police commissioner was a major factor, Republicans say, in Mr. Bush's decision to nominate Mr. Kerik for homeland security secretary.

Loyal to Kerik, Giuliani Missed Warning Signs
Mr. Giuliani defended Mr. Kerik, a friend and business partner, whom he had recommended to the Bush administration.

Bernie Kerik: From Hero to Tabloid Target
"When you get that American dream, there's a thousand people at the top to despise you for it … No matter what you do, no matter how great you become, there is always someone there to slap you down."
Poor Bernie, doesn't he know that conservatives value personal responsibility?

Who's Arming the Iraqi Insurgency?

Why does the USA continually sell or in this case lose weapons to people that we always end up fighting? In this case, 190,000 pistols and automatic rifles supplied by the United States to Iraq’s security forces in 2004 and 2005 that end up in the hands of the insurgents.

Many of those weapons were issued when Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the top American commander in Iraq, was responsible for training and equipping Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. General Petraeus has said that he opted to arm the Iraqi forces as quickly as possible, before tracking systems were fully in place.
Then there are the billions of dollars in "aid" to our good ally and dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan. I wonder if we will ever regret sending all that money to Pakistan.

Remember all the military support we gave to the Shah of Iran? Iran still has weapons, such as F-15 fighter aircraft, that we supplied during the good old days. Think those will ever be used against us?

How about the aid we gave to Saddam to fight Iran or the stinger missles we gave to rebels in Afghanistan?

Why do we always end up supplying the weapons that kill our soldiers?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Plasticene Era and Global Climate Change

Can anyone solve the below equation? Ever hear of the "plasticene" era?

4δ161x Λ³Жญ5,6,1,8Φ-4 = {(ΣΨ²Њyt3-14๖P9) x 49}/2β x ⅜kxgt-§

The formula has many on the right-wing in a tizzy because it is part of the data that proves mankind is not responsible for global-warming. Even Rush Limbaugh was quick to use the paper to show how little those looney, leftist global climate change idiots know.

The "scientific paper" published in the Journal of Geoclimactic Studies is a complete hoax of course as is the above meaningless "mathmatic" formula. There is no such journal.

Carbon dioxide production by benthic bacteria: The death of manmade global warming theory is the title of the paper. Did I point out the paper is a hoax? The authors are Daniel A Klein*, Mandeep J Gupta*, Philip Cooper**, Arne FR Jansson** from *Department of Climatology, University of Arizona; **Department of Atmospheric Physics, Göteborgs Universitet (University of Gothenburg, Sweden.). No such people or departments exist.

An interview with the real author can be found here.
Why did you decide to construct the fake website? Was it purely a joke or did you set out to make people taking your paper at face value look foolish?

Its purpose was to expose the credulity and scientific illiteracy of many of the people who call themselves climate sceptics. While dismissive of the work of the great majority of climate scientists, they will believe almost anything if it lends support to their position. Their approach to climate science is the opposite of scepticism.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Frank Rich points out how Pres. Musharaf mimics the actions of G.W. Bush in an op-ed in todays NYT.
Even if Mr. Bush had the guts to condemn General Musharraf, there is no longer any moral high ground left for him to stand on. Quite the contrary. Rather than set a democratic example, our president has instead served as a model of unconstitutional behavior, eagerly emulated by his Pakistani acolyte.
Rich goes on to point out that the current crop of Presidential candidates don't appear to want to change things much.
This is most apparent in the Republican presidential race, where most of the candidates seem to be running for dictator and make no apologies for it. They’re falling over each other to expand Gitmo, see who can promise the most torture and abridge the largest number of constitutional rights.
Democratic Senators Senators Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer haven't been much better with their recent vote to support an Attorney General that cannot decide whether waterboarding is torture or not. Rich ends his op-ed with a very, very sad sentence.
Americans know that the ideals that once set our nation apart from the world have been vandalized, and no matter which party they belong to, they do not see a restoration anytime soon.